“Spoons” are a term frequently used by those in the chronic illness, disability, and neurodivergent communities to describe the limited energy or physical and mental stamina we may or may not have on any given day. Often times, people will refer to themselves as “Spoonies” as well. These monikers originated from something known as “The Spoon Theory”, which you can read here.
On this site, I begin by giving each game and experience I review a “spoons” rating, which expresses how many spoons I think a Virtual Reality (VR) experience may cost. The more spoons there are in a rating, the more energy-intensive the experience is. I take the following considerations into account when issuing spoons:
- How much do you have to move in order to play?
- How much control, if any, do you have over the game’s intensity?
- How intense are the required movements overall?
- Are there calm moments where you can rest in between action sequences?
- Are you required to stay standing, or can you sit down?
- How long does it take to complete a level or get to a good stopping point?
- How physically draining is the experience?
- How mentally draining is the experience?
It’s important to keep in mind that the number of spoons I give in a review is relative to my own experience, which may differ from yours. The spoonie community is extremely diverse. What I consider to be two spoons might cost another person four, and yet another person only one.
To give you a good basis for comparison between my spoons and yours, I would give each of the activities listed on the right the following spoon ratings. Please adjust each according to your personal level of spoons and keep that adjustment in mind while reading my reviews. Also please keep in mind that my “spoons” are mostly related to weakness, fatigue, and other symptoms caused by my endocrine disorder. I do not live with chronic pain.
A leisurely walk:
A fast walk:
Riding a bicycle:
Writing an article:
1hr Zoom call:
30 min. shopping:
Cook a big meal:
Each of my reviews also include ratings on a scale from 1-5 stars for accessibility, community, replayability, and immersion. To the right is a key showing what I consider each rating to mean.
I calculate these ratings based on a number of different considerations for each category. I try my best to be as consistent as possible, taking into account the judgements I have made on pervious games and experiences when taking on a new review.
I consider this to be the most important part of my reviews. I want VR to be accessible to ALL people, regardless of mobility and other potential restrictions. I am privileged to not have any physical limitations myself, so I aim to use that privilege to test these games and experiences so folks who need certain accessibility accommodations can get some sort of idea of whether or not they will be able to enjoy them. Pointing out accessibility shortcomings in VR experiences also has the added bonus of encouraging developers to take this aspect more into consideration as they create new content.
When issuing my accessibility rating, I take the following considerations into account:
- Can you play it while sitting down?
- Can you play it while lying down?
- Is there an option to play one-handed?
- Is there UI scaling or other low vision support?
Experiences will only be granted an accessibility rating of 5 stars if the experience can be enjoyed with only one controller while the user is lying horizontally. So far, very few VR experiences fit this criteria, and none of them are interactive games. I would like to see this change in the future.
This review category is important because many spoonies experience social isolation as a result of their debilitating and often inconsistent symptoms. While VR may not be able to fully replace the need for in-person social interactions, it certainly alleviates some of the loneliness and isolation associated with homebound life. Connecting with others (even complete strangers) in VR has greatly improved my quality of life. Even in certain VR experiences where there are multiplayer options that do not include direct communication between players, the feeling of community is palpable and comforting.
When issuing my community rating, I take the following considerations into account:
- Is there a multiplayer option?
- If so, is there voice chat or other direct communication between players?
- Are there leaderboards which encourage competition?
- Is there a strong community outside of VR, such as active and engaging social media pages or a Discord server?
- Once you beat the main campaign (if there is one) is there a reason to return?
- Are there mini-games/ challenges?
- Is it a roguelike (procedurally generated for a unique, new playthrough each time)?
- Leaderboards also factor into this rating, as they encourage players to compete.
- How much does the game draw you in?
- What are the quality of the graphics?
- Are there glitches? If so, how frequent are they?
These are all based on my personal experience, which of course may differ from yours. My reviews, like all reviews, should be taken with a grain of salt and consideration that this is a point of OPINION, not hard facts. If you disagree with my reviews for any reason, I highly encourage polite discourse in the comments section expressing your take on the VR experience in question. A diverse forum of different opinions is important for folks who want to learn about what is being reviewed so they can make their own educated decisions.
Thank you for taking the time to read about how I’ll be writing reviews on this site! I’m hoping to have my first review finished and published here soon. Please consider following this blog, or follow the SpoonieVR Twitter account to be notified when this and other articles go live.